Grading Iowa football’s 24-3 road win over Purdue

Daily Iowan Pregame Editor Austin Hanson graded the Hawkeyes in all three phases following their victory against the Boilermakers on Saturday.


Ayrton Breckenridge

Purdue running back Dylan Downing (38) carries the ball as Iowa defensive end Joe Evans (13) tackles him during a football game between Iowa and Purdue at Ross–Ade Stadium in West Lafayette, Ind., on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022. Downing rushed the ball nine times for 35 yards. The Hawkeyes held the Boilermakers to 255 yards. The Hawkeyes defeated the Boilermakers, 24-3.

Austin Hanson, Pregame Editor

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — The Iowa football team took down Purdue, 24-3, at Ross-Ade Stadium on Saturday. The Hawkeyes had dropped four of five against the Boilermakers before this season.

Iowa is now 5-4 on the season. Its 3-3 record in conference play is good for second place in the Big Ten West. The Hawkeyes, Boilermakers, Wisconsin Badgers, and Minnesota Golden Gophers are all one game back of the first-place Illinois Fighting Illini in the division standings.

After the final whistle sounded, Daily Iowan Pregame Editor Austin Hanson graded the Hawkeyes’ performance in all three phases:

Offense — B+

Iowa put together its most complete offensive performance of the year against Purdue. The Hawkeyes gained 376 yards on 58 offensive plays.

Running back Kaleb Johnson racked up a career-high 200 yards on 22 carries. The true freshman picked up 75 yards on one touchdown run during the third quarter.

Johnson ran 10 yards untouched between the hashes, then broke toward the west sideline on his way to the end zone. The 75-yard TD came on the Hawkeyes’ second play from scrimmage in the third quarter.

Senior quarterback Spencer Petras threw for 192 yards. He went 13-of-23 on the game, racking up two touchdowns.

Tight end Sam LaPorta and wide receiver Nico Ragaini scored their first TDs of the season in the second quarter. Petras hit LaPorta for a 16-yard touchdown with 14:23 remaining in the first half. Then, on the ensuing drive, Petras found Ragaini for a 29-yard, catch-and-run touchdown.

The Hawkeyes entered their contest with the Boilermakers ranked 129th in the nation in total offense, averaging 248.6 yards per game.

In its last two contests, Iowa has scored 57 points and gained 774 yards. In their first seven games of the season, the Hawkeyes accumulated 98 points.

The Boilermakers were ranked 42nd in the nation in total defense through their first eight games, limiting their opponents to 352.8 yards per game.

Iowa didn’t have a perfect offensive performance. It played a little conservatively in the second half, but it still did enough to win the game.

Defense — A+

Iowa’s defense has struggled against Purdue in recent years. In their last five matchups with the Boilermakers — excluding Saturday’s game — the Hawkeyes have been outscored 130-104.

The Boilermakers averaged 309.8 passing and 402.4 total yards against Iowa during that stretch. From 2017-21, Purdue had at least one receiver with 125 yards in each of its games with Iowa.

The Hawkeyes bucked all of those trends this year. The Boilermakers’ leading receiver was senior Charlie Jones, who caught 11 passes for 104 yards.

Iowa held Purdue to 255 yards of total offense — 168 passing and 87 rushing. Boilermaker quarterback Aidan O’Connell, who was responsible for all of Purdue’s passing yards, went 20-of-43 with two interceptions.

Iowa also limited Purdue to just three points. The Boilermakers averaged 26 points in their previous five games against the Hawkeyes.

Iowa’s defense deserves a perfect grade this week because it finally seems to have figured out how to stop a Purdue offense that has plagued it for years.

Special teams — A-

Iowa’s special teams unit deserves the benefit of the doubt this week. Yes, true freshman placekicker Drew Stevens missed a 44-yard field goal and four of junior Tory Taylor’s eight punts went for touchbacks.

But both Taylor and Stevens were contending with 25 mph winds and gusts of up to 50 mph throughout their contest with the Boilermakers. Despite the adverse conditions, Taylor still downed two punts inside the Purdue 20-yard line. He also averaged 51.8 yards per boot and registered a career-long 70-yard kick.

Stevens finished his day 1-of-2 on field goal attempts, converting one from 26 yards out. His 44-yarder hit the north end zone goal’s left upright.

Stevens also went 3-for-3 on extra points attempts.

Given the conditions it faced, the Iowa special team unit’s grade shouldn’t drop because a missed 44-yard field goal and a few touchbacks.